The first recorded case of the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as the swine flu, has been reported.  On August 28, Dr. Robbie Soltz, wife of Bloomsburg University President David Soltz, became the first BU community resident to be diagnosed with the virus.  Soltz most likely contracted the virus on a trip from Phoenix back to Philadelphia on August 23, according to an email sent to all faculty by the BU Communications office.  This is believed to be the likeliest scenario as there has been no other reported cases in the areas surrounding Bloomsburg.

Soltz has been isolated in her home and under the care of Geisinger’s infectious disease control physician.  Individuals who were in contact with Soltz prior to her diagnoses have showed no signs of having contracted the virus and are no longer in the high-risk group.  President Soltz has not displayed any flu-like symptoms and is not considered infected.  All individuals who were possibly at risk of contracting the disease have passed the incubation period which is said to be one to three days according to an interview with Andrew Pekosz, an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University, by the Washington Post.

Long Beach State (Calif.) students pick up masks to prevent swine flu; courtesy of the AP

Long Beach State (Calif.) students pick up masks to prevent swine flu; courtesy of the AP

The university has finalized its H1N1 course of action.  According to Cindy Harris, supervisor of the university Health Center, students who are confirmed to be H1N1 positive will be required to report home, or if unable, to stay confined to their room or apartment.  Any roommates will have the option to temporarily move out in coordination with Residence Life, or pick up a safety mask.  The university has also installed touch-free hand sanitizers in all buildings on campus.

“Young people from ages six months to about 24 years of age are considered most susceptible,” said Harris. “This flu can spread rapidly and can get a large amount of people sick in a short period of time.”

Symptoms are very similar to the seasonal flu, only more severe.  A fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, painful full body aches, trouble breathing, watery eyes, and congested sinuses are all causes for concern and a visit to a doctor, whether at the health center or elsewhere, is strongly recommended.

A vaccine for the H1N1 virus is expected to be available to the public around mid to late October, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The BU health center is registered as a Push site and will receive vaccines when they become available.  Until then, sanitation is the only way to prevent the virus; that and hoping it doesn’t spread in this area.

*Communications Director Rosalee Rush was not available for interview when called.

The BU health center provides answers to common questions about swine flu on its site.

For BU students’ reactions check out coverage by WBRE News.